Cozy bed-and-breakfast Inn, scenic 17-mile drive, cute little Carmel-by-the-sea and Monterey downtown, various art galleries and museums, tasty seafood paella, etc. what else could you expect in a two-day weekend getaway?
We arrived in Monterey on a rainy Saturday. The drive was almost 2 hrs. Maybe the first time that I drove for this long continuously. The rain was on and off all the way, overall the road condition wasn’t too bad. As we got closer to Monterey, the California #1 highway got closer to the coastline, which led to a gorgeous view of the Monterey bay. With the waves and echoing sound of the pacific ocean, yeah, this is the California we are talking about (no more san mateo or redwood city lol). The hotel was booked on Friday, since the whole trip was planned within 5 mins during lunch (mostly because our original ski plan get canceled). As much as we wanted to go on a ski strip to Tahoe, Carmel/Monterey does seem to be a much better place for couple’s romantic escapes.
The Old Monterey Inn was rated as the one of the best bed-and-breakfast Inn in town. I have never had bed-and-breakfast experience, as a big breakfast person, I’ve always wanted to do it though. I am already half satisfied with the choice almost at the moment I arrived in this place. It’s mins drive from the Monterey fisherman’s wharf. A lightly uphill road, led to this tranquil and cozy place. The driveway only allows one car to go pass, and the guest parking only have 6 spaces (which made the parking extremely difficult LOL). Apparently, this hotel doesn’t accommodate large numbers of guests at one time.
Going in, we were greeted by a beautiful young lady who introduced us to all the specialty services provided. As far as I can tell, it’s more like a home experience as opposed to a hotel stay. Guests can use the living room downstairs, in which wine, piano, fireplaces, books, DVDs, or even boardgames are provided. There will be coffee and tea served 24hrs in a tiny little room nearby. Up on the second floor, a fridge has all the beverages and late night snacks you could expect (way better than a vendor machine). Recommended books are placed on an old and dark bookshelf on the second floor as well, mostly about travel in California, and… Europe 😛 I guess the owner’s creating this home inn experience with the home stays in Europe in mind. On the third floor, we finally arrived at our room: Rockery. Again, it’s nothing fancy, huge, or even bright, totally the oppposite, it’s OLD… classic, authentically decorated with wood frames, fireplaces, paintings depicting people’s life back in the early 19th or 20th century… i loved this place, and almost felt I should be wearing what Vivien Leigh was wearing in ‘Gone with the wind.’
We haven’t get a chance to eat lunch yet, so despite of the rain, we drove to the fisherman’s wharf in Monterey anyways, and yes, they have a fisherman’s wharf here as well. This part was not quite interesting, perhaps due to the weather, like all other wharf’s I’ve been to, they sell clam cheddar and ice creams, quite similar to SF, but not so much the ocean view I was expecting to see in the middle of California.
Never thought/expected he could be an artistic person, but he does show interests of going to the art galleries and museums in Monterey, which surprised me (positive surprise). Monterey Museum of Art is only five mins of drive from the downtown area. Interestingly, when we got in the one near city hall, we found out the museum actually has two locations, another (bigger) one is located at somewhere north on the hill. We gave up our original wine tasting plan and decided to tour these two museums locations instead. The first one’s quite small, featuring most arts on California landscapes by Californian artists. A few photographs shoot by a local cali photographer back in 1960s were quite impressive. Back in 1960s, taking photos were not a highly aided process with SLRs and digital technology, you can tell the photos were touch in some way, the resolution was not as good as the photos taken today (even by amateurs), however, the big particles you can tell when step closer to the painting somehow resonates with the ocean wind and waves. The fine details of the scene are almost unnecessary in this scenario to depict the spirit of the ocean as well as California. The second one seems to be the main location. To our surprise, early art works from impressionist, miro, matisse and picasso are here as well. Even more interesting, we found this exhibition from a female Chinese artist featuring Chinese women with traditional clothes and accessories. The artist Liu Hung was born in late 1940s, growing up with the republic, witnessed the great lapse and the revolutions when she was an art major in Beijing Normal University. She came to the States in 1980s, perhaps one of the earliest group of overseas Chinese students after the revolution. Those arts reflecting her impression and interpretation of female Chinese figures were trying to express the complexity of any cultural underpinnings and any historical events. She teaches art in an art institute in Cali now, which reminds me of other Chinese scholars (mostly female) in the field of communication studies. No matter how many miles they are away from China, no matter how many years they have received education and lived in a western cultural environment, their most successful research/work still comes from their understanding or at least comparisons between Asian Cultural with the western environment. I’ve always been wondering, will people like us (at least finished the most part of our high school in China), ever be totally get detached with our Asian cultural background. I mean I hate having to bring topics from China all the time in conversations my foreign friends, but if that’s what it feels the most natural, why should I fight it (to intentionally hide all those cultural stigma to try to blend in)?
Apparently there’s not enough time for winery as most of them closes before 5pm. We decided to drive a bit south, the original plan’s to go to a state reserve, but the carmel-by-the-sea sign definitely caught my attention, so I took one highway exit earlier than planned. It turns out to be a good last minute change, we were able to drove down the beautiful oceanic road in Carmel, and got to the Carmel beach. Although it was slightly rainy, and very cold, the closeness to ocean was just better than anything. Dinner was included in our hotel package. We had a difficult time deciding what to order in order to fill up that 80 dollar up limit for a dinner for two at the Fandango restaurant in Monterey. It turns out the two entree were both good, but the appetizer Foie Gras was a bit too much and quite pricy. Anyways, there are things in life you have to try at least once. So, once you’ve done it, you won’t regret for not having done it and you will probably not looking forward to doing it again either.
We were looking for good places for jazz or live band after dinner. The waiter at the Fandango recommended Sly Mickfly, which is a local live music club. Although it was too 20th century to check out the show theme/ schedule on a newspaper, but in this old coast town, we did find out a bunch of good performance info on the Monterey Chronicle LOL, it turned out the show that night at Sly Mickfly is Hits from 1950s to Now, which sounds like it’s gonna have it all, so why not give it a try. The moment I stepped into the bar, i know this is the right place to spend the rest of our night. Jazz was too gloomy, rock’s probably too heavy and not rhythm-y, those hits from the old days, were classically trendy, relaxing and sometimes romantic to the right amount. We saw couples ranging from their 20s, to 50s or even 60s were dancing with each other along with the live music. Ladies, despite their wrinkles, men despite their belly could barely fit in with the best jeans they picked to come to this place, all of them looks happy, healthy and passionate. It’s nothing like young ppl’s weekend clubbing, all those moves and steps, you can only see in American movies from the 80s or even 70s. But weird enough, I totally enjoyed watching them (and dancing with them!) I am probably those people who are growing up mentally old… lol I remember Anthony once asked what my favorite music style is, the answer i gave was country (the truth is i didn’t get to experience that many genres back then).
Sadly, because i had to drive, so, no drinking for me LOL. What are the chances that you are allowed to drink, and a pretty girl’s promised to drive you to a hotel afterwards?
Only in Monterey, only when the girl you are dating is Miss.Sally 🙂